SPRINGFIELD, Ill. (AP) — A federal grand jury has returned a superseding indictment against a man accused in the abduction of a University of Illinois scholar from China.

The indictment returned Tuesday accuses Brendt Christensen of kidnapping resulting in the death of Yingying Zhang. If convicted of the charge, the 28-year-old Christensen faces the death penalty or life in prison.

brendt christensen mug Grand Jury Upgrades Charges Against U Of I Kidnapping Suspect

Brendt Christensen. (Courtesy: Macon County Sheriff’s Office)

The indictment alleges Christensen intentionally killed the 26-year-old Zhang in “an especially heinous, cruel, or depraved manner.” It contends her death involved torture or serious physical abuse and that he did so “after substantial planning and premeditation.”

Zhang disappeared June 9, weeks after arriving at the university. Even though her body hasn’t been found, authorities believe Zhang is dead.

The indictment also charges Christensen with two counts of making false statements to FBI agents.

yhang Grand Jury Upgrades Charges Against U Of I Kidnapping Suspect

Yingying Zhang (FBI)

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